(AP) -- A suburban New York county has adopted the nation's first ban on the chemical found in plastic baby bottles and sippy cups.
The measure banning the sale of baby bottles containing BPA was signed by Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy on Thursday after county legislators passed it last month.
Several states including California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii are considering bans the chemical formally known as bisphenol A, but Suffolk County, on Long Island, is the first place in the nation to enact one.
Canada announced in October it was banning BPA in baby bottles, becoming the first country to restrict sale of the chemical, which is commonly used in the lining of food cans, eyeglass lenses and hundreds of household items.
The Suffolk County ban will take effect within 90 days of being filed with New York's secretary of state and applies to empty beverage containers used by children ages 3 and younger.
Baby bottles frequently contain BPA, which is used to harden plastic and make it shatterproof.
Some scientists believe that long-term exposure to BPA is harmful to humans, but the European Union and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration say the chemical is safe.
"While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration stands by, Suffolk County is taking measures to protect their most vulnerable population from the potential harm of BPA exposure," said Urvashi Rangan, a senior scientist and policy analyst at Consumers Union, the nonprofit that publishes Consumer Reports magazine.
Levy, the Suffolk County executive, said children's exposure to potentially harmful products should be minimized.
"Of all the things a parent must worry about," he said, "whether or not their child is being harmed by a baby bottle should not be one of them."
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